Johnny Depp won a defamation suit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, on Wednesday when a jury found that she defamed Depp by claiming that he abused her during their relationship.
Depp, who was not present in court on Wednesday owing to a previously scheduled commitment, sued for $50 million in damages in response to a 2018 Washington Post opinion-editorial column in which Heard claimed she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Even though the essay did not mention Depp by name, his lawyers claim it referred to allegations she made against him during their 2016 divorce.
Heard could not support her charges against Depp, and she knew her claims of abuse were false when she published her 2018 essay, the jury unanimously ruled.
When drafting her op-ed, the jury decided that Heard acted with genuine malice. In his defamation claim, a jury awarded Johnny Depp $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
“From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome,” Depp said in a statement Wednesday. “Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.”
Depp said that “the jury gave me my life back. I am truly humbled.”
Heard countersued for $100 million, claiming that she only ever used violence against Depp in self-defense or to protect her younger sister. Heard’s countersuit focused on three statements made to the Daily Mail in 2020 by Depp’s former attorney Adam Waldman, in which he called Heard’s allegations of abusing a “hoax.”
On one count, the jury decided that Depp defamed Heard through Waldman. Heard received $2 million in compensatory damages but no punitive punishment from the jury.
The panel, which began deliberations on Friday, reached a judgment after almost 13 hours of deliberation over three days. The high-profile trial, which lasted about six weeks in Fairfax County, Virginia, was broadcasted nationwide and attracted a lot of attention.
Due to the higher standard, that a plaintiff must prove, defamation actions filed in the United States by popular figures, such as an actor, are commonly regarded to be difficult cases to win.
Depp’s lawyers tried to portray him as the domestic abuse victim during the weeks-long trial in Fairfax, Virginia, by presenting audiotapes and text messages as evidence. When Heard became violent, Depp’s sister, closest friend, former colleagues, and a doctor testified that the actor would often hide from her.
Heard allegedly threw a vodka bottle at Depp during a flight to Australia, cutting his finger. (Depp cut his finger, according to Heard’s attorney.) Lawyers also played Depp’s audiotapes, in which Heard admitted to throwing pots and pans at him. Heard stated she hit Depp but didn’t punch him in another recorded conversation.
Reacting to the Defamation Suit Verdict – Amber Heard called it a “setback”
Heard reacted to the verdict as a “setback” for women. “The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband,” she said in a statement.
“I’m even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It is a setback… It sets back the idea that violence against women is to be taken seriously,” she said.
During the trial, dozens of witnesses, including bodyguards, Hollywood executives, agents, entertainment business specialists, doctors, friends, and family, testified.
Hundreds of fans of the “Pirates” actor attended the broadcast trial, which was supported by a #JusticeForJohnnyDepp social media campaign. Depp and Heard each spent days on the witness stand throughout the televised trial.